Customer Review

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely entertaining, 17 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The Gospel of Loki (Hardcover)
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Even for those of us who have never read up on their Norse mythology, the stories and themes of the gods of Asgard crop up so many times reflected in other stories that most of us will be familiar with at least one, probably more than one, of their tales. A good way of drawing together these stories for a modern audience is to focus them on just one character, and the character of Loki is – without any disrespect to Joanne M Harris' creativity – the obvious choice for this. I knew even as I was reading the book's description that I was going to enjoy this book.

Okay, I can't tell you how accurate this imagining of the story is to the "official version" that Loki tells us his story is just as true as, though I suspect there are many variations on the myths anyway. What matters is this is probably the most entertaining book you're going to read this year. Loki is an antihero with questionable morality who does some terrible things, and yet for most of the time (but not all of the time by any means), you feel some degree of sympathy for him. He's not human after all, but a creature of chaos, and that chaotic nature, over the course of the book, gets him both into trouble and into various characters' favours in equal measure, but he is constantly burdened by the realisation that he'll never be one of "them", whoever it is he hangs out with.

Loki the trickster not only plays a part in all the best stories about Asgard, he is instrumental in its rise to power and ultimately its destruction. As a reader, you know that destruction is coming, and you're eager to learn what role Loki plays in it. Of course the other side of this is that, seeing as the book is told in first person, the other discovery you are reading towards is, quite naturally, what happens to Loki afterwards. The decision to write Loki's narration in such a way that it contains a number of modern references and speech patterns was undoubtedly the right one, as it makes it easier for the reader to identify with him, however the flip-side of that is that it builds up an expectation that there is something more to Loki's story after the fall of Asgard than there actually turns out to be; that the Trickster might well be keeping his last and best trick to play on the reader, and I was waiting for that punch to come. I had felt that the book was building towards something extremely clever – something that could set it apart as a modern classic – and then it turned out not to be there. That left me with conflicting feelings, as I'd enjoyed the journey immensely, but the expectation that some creative licence was going to be used to blow me away with a massive revelation left me feeling disappointed when it failed to happen.

And yet I can't bring myself to mark this book any lower than five stars despite this. Doing so would be the equivalent of saying to someone, "maybe think twice before buying this," but I can't help but recommend it to everyone.
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